Well, final cuts are coming up. The Bruins need to have their opening day roster finalized by Wednesday, at 3 p.m., but due to waivers vagaries, they really need to have everything submitted by tomorrow. With that known, let’s play Mohegan Sun oddsmaker, and lay odds on who’s getting cut. This post will be obsolete in a few hours, we know, but still, it’s always fun to speculate.
C/W Nate Thompson: 1/1
Thompson surprised me by staying in camp this long, but it really doesn’t make much sense for the Bruins to keep him in Boston, at least for the start of the season. He projects to be nothing more than a third or fourth line grinder and energy guy, and the Bruins have so many of those, they currently have one slotted in as the right wing on a scoring line (Chuck Kobasew). Thompson obviously needs playing time and experience to continue his development, but how much of that can he get when he’s a healthy scratch twice a week? Let him play at Providence, and call him up when injuries start to pile up.
LW Peter Schaefer 3/1
When you make $2.2 million a year, you should be putting up more than 9 goals a season. Were the Bruins not in a salary cap crunch, Schaefer would have the time to work out the kinks in his game, and be given the opportunity to regain his 50-point form and earn that money. Unfortunately for Schaefer, that’s not the case. With that contract, it’s unlikely other teams would claim Schaefer, though many teams could certainly use a Peter Schaefer-type player. Still, hockey is a business and the cost does not equal the return on Schaefer. A roster spot and cap space must be cleared for Blake Wheeler to score more than 9 goals, and taking Schaefer off the boards seems like the most expedient way to do that without disrupting team chemistry.
D Matt Hunwick 2/1
With a slew of defensemen that have already earned steady assigments on the Bruins, it’s tough to imagine Hunwick would stay in Boston. The only person Hunwick could potentially challenge for a roster spot would be Shane Hnidy, and although Hnidy may not be the most impressive player ever, he’s more experienced than Hunwick. Hunwick’s only 22, so he has plenty of time to develop in Providence, where he will have the opportunity to play with Jeff Penner, Matt Lashoff, and Johnny Boychuk, who represent the potenital future of the Boston blue line; having them play together for another year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sending Hunwick to Providence is no surprise, but it does little to alleviate the cap issues.
D Andrew Alberts 8/1
The Bruinsphere’s second favorite synonym for salary cap dead-weight, Alberts is a lot less replaceable than many of the players on this list because of how the talent is shaking out in Providence. Alberts is a big guy, but he moves pretty well in spite of his size. He also likes to hit things, and is as good at discouraging opposing forwards from chasing pucks into the corners as Zdeno Chara – mostly because Alberts has a chance of catching up to them. Still, the $1.25 mil cap hit is enough to merit consideration, and Alberts doesn’t seem like he’s fully recovered from the serious neck and brain injuries he suffered last year (and played through, briefly). Likely no takers if he’s waived and sent to Providence, but there are a few teams out there for whom Alberts would be a considerable upgrade on the third pairing.
RW Jeremy Reich 10/1
Reich has constantly been a player who has spent most of his time in the pressbox, enjoying the delicious concessions provided by…snore…zzz…zzz…so bored…snore.
LW Milan Lucic 25/1
Yeah, that woke you the fuck up. Look, Lucic, by all accounts is having a horrible pre-season, and he doesn’t have to clear waivers. His cap hit is only 850k, so he wouldn’t do much to improve the cap situation, but he could be a part of the solution. Spending some time in Providence would allow him to continue working on his skating ability without the pressure of needing to produce at the NHL level. Reich and Shawn Thornton can replace his grit and time spent in the penalty box, and hopefully Wheeler can match Lucic’s rookie output of 27 points. The guy’s only 20 and despite exceeding expectations last season, expectations were admittedly low. If Looch doesn’t start delivering early, look for the Bruins to give him a locker at the Dunkin Donuts Center, and for his demotion to eerily coincide with Peter Chiarelli’s broken nose.
LW/RW Blake Wheeler 50/1
Okay, I’ve been saying that Wheeler should start the season in Providence all throughout training camp. Then I saw him play 12 minutes in Saturday’s game and now I firmly believe he can contribute at the NHL level. That said, however, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he started off in Providence until injuries created room for him in Boston. He doesn’t have to clear waivers, and his cap hit is egregiously high, and, as they demonstrated with Tuukka Rask, the Bruins aren’t necessarily in a hurry to clear space to allow their younger players the opportunity to play in the NHL. With the media whipping the fanbase into a frenzy about Wheeler, the front office can’t really afford to send him down to the P-Bruins without making people angry, but they can’t really afford (literally) to keep Wheeler given the current situation.
We’ll stop there, and do a more thorough analysis once the cuts are actually announced, but if Milan Lucic is sent to Providence, we’re going to take the ten cents in our collective bank accounts and take it down to Foxwoods. Mohegan Sun is too classy to take penny bets.